Lesson 136—November 6, 2016
Audio commentary by David Daniel
Jesus Answers the Pharisees
Scripture: Matthew 12:24-30, Mark 3:22-27
Lesson Goal: To better understand how Jesus responded and what He meant when He answered the Pharisees’ accusation that He was of satan.
[The question of Matthew 12:23] forced the first public showdown in the growing rift between Jesus and the Jewish authorities. Son of David was a much used title for Messiah. So the antagonistic representatives of Jewish leadership in Jerusalem (Mark 3:22) were forced to speak out strongly against this identification of Jesus. So tense was the confrontation that Jesus’ own family wondered about His sanity (Mark 3:21). This encounter was a major turning point in Jesus’ ministry (Thomas).
The fact that Jesus had healed a man who was demon-possessed, blind and mute could not be denied. The religious leaders did not attempt to deny; rather, they sought an alternate explanation of how it happened. They declared it was not the power of God, but rather it was the power of satan.
Pentecost explains that to us a single well-ascertained miracle would form irrefutable evidence of the claims of Christ; to the Pharisees and religious leaders, it would not. They would believe in the miracles yet not in the Christ (Messiah). The fact that a miracle occurred was not the point of the Pharisees’ and religious leaders’ argument. Their argument was in what name the miracle occur? The Pharisees can only offer this alternate explanation—it is in the power and name of satan that Jesus did these things.
Have you ever known someone who always tried to offer an alternate reason for the working of the power of God?
Have you ever heard someone try to explain away the power of God? Please explain.
Why did the Pharisees have such a difficult time understanding the power of God in Jesus Christ?
In the Pharisees’ minds, what was at stake by the answer to the question: “Could this be the Son of David”?
According to J. Dwight Pentecost and based upon the Scriptures Matthew 12:25-29 and Mark 3:23-27, Jesus offered three proofs to show that the Pharisees’ explanation was false. The first proof was that division leads to destruction and that unity is necessary for preservation. If He received power from satan and used that power against satan, then satan’s kingdom ultimately must fall (Matthew 12:25-26). Satan would not confer authority to be used for his own destruction.
The second reason recognized the existence of exorcists in the nation of Israel. Some in Israel could cast out demons, and Israel deemed those people to be God’s gifts to the nation. Even the Pharisees acknowledged this manifestation of God’s power and thanked Him for the gifts of exorcists. Christ’s argument was that since the Pharisees recognized the ability to drive out demons as coming from God, they should not charge Him with being demon-possessed when He drove out demons (Matthew 12:27). The implication of Christ’s words was that if He casts out demons by satan’s power, He could not be offering the prophesized Kingdom of God to them. “But, if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (v. 28). Since Christ did cast out demons by God’s power, it must be concluded that His offer of the Kingdom was genuine and He was its bona fide King.
The third refutation pointed out that before a robber can enter a guarded citadel, the robber must have sufficient power to subdue the guard (Matthew 12:29). The inference was that if Christ can enter satan’s stronghold and deliver people from his control as He had just done (v. 22), then it is evident that He is stronger than satan. Satan could not give Christ a power greater than what he himself possessed.
With these three proofs, Christ sought to show the multitudes that the pharisaic explanation of this miracle was false.
What are some evidences that Jesus is the Messiah?
As we close today’s lesson, may I remind you that we are less than 48 hours from Election Day 2016? I hope that if you have not already taken advantage of early voting opportunities you will go to the polls Tuesday and exercise this great privilege you have been given as an American.
I can honestly say that no presidential election in my lifetime has beckoned me to prayer like election 2016. I have never faced more questions in my own heart concerning an election. For me, the questions are many and the answers are few. As I seek the wisdom of God, I find myself not only praying for His will for an election but His will for a nation. I do not pretend to be either a historian or a prophet, but I believe that the decisions that will be made Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will have far, far reaching effects. Most likely, the president we elect will appoint one, perhaps two, judges to the United States Supreme Court. This fact alone drives me to the war room of prayer for our nation. I believe the results of the 2016 election could potentially be viewed on the pages of history and by the test of time as the election that reshaped America. For I believe that the possibility certainly exists for the loss of our basic rights and freedoms which have been a part of our heritage for over two-hundred years. When you vote on Tuesday, you will be helping to shape the future of America. I ask that you please vote wisely, because you are shaping America for my grandchildren.
Not ironic, but three days after the election we recognize our veterans. Veterans Day is the day we honor all the brave men and women who have served this great nation protecting and defending our freedoms. Freedoms that I fear many of us have taken for granted. There’s an old country saying: “You don’t miss the water ‘til the well runs dry.” Could it be that our well of blessings, graces, and favors, granted to us by Almighty God, is on the brink of running dry? This Wednesday may find us entering the greatest drought in the history of our nation. Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that God, the great and only God, the God of the Bible, is the God upon which this nation was founded. As a nation, we found our early dependence upon Him, and if we shall continue, we must once again find our dependence upon Him. In the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Look to the rock from which you were cut.”
What will America be like in 10 years, 20 years, 50 years? To personalize this question, what will America be like when my Sofia is 15, 25, or 55 years old? I pray for her sake that we don’t try to reshape American, but rather that we see God reshape the hearts of Americans. Please God send revival! Please God bring revival!
Because you were allowed to vote on Tuesday, please say thank you to a veteran this Friday.
Please say thank you to God today, because He blessed you with a veteran who made it possible for you to vote.